A few weeks ago, on a cold Autumn evening in the middle of Seoul, I was sitting in a lovely and warm coffee shop where I was apprehensively waiting for Kim Hyun-jin, a model who is more than just a beautiful face. Dressed casual yet a la mode, Hyun-jin greeted me and sat down for a chat about modelling, fashion, and life. Born in 1988, Hyun-jin has been working in the fashion industry for a few years and is currently signed with one of the most prestigious Korean model agency, ESteem Ent. Before entering the world of modelling, she traveled at the age of 16 to Shanghai to study. She spent 7 years in China, where she discovered that being tall was a good thing and that it would open doors to the fashion world. After majoring in fashion, Hyun-jin returned to Korea where she embarked on a modelling career: “I always felt that I wanted to be a model, even when I was in China; their fashion appealed to me.
“After Shanghai, I was eager to go to the U.S to study more, however, my inner-me decided to become a model.
“I went to a modeling academy where I learned the most essential things about being a fashion model and that’s how I started, really.”
Currently, South Korean models are making a considerable mark for themselves on the world stage. When it comes to Hyun-jin, she slowly but surely is climbing up the fashion industry ladder and has already started to participate in shows for reputable designers such as Carolina Herena, Gucci and Swarovski. Her other domestic activities include appearances at Seoul Fashion Week and other Seoul Collections for Yichaeho, Miss Paper Collection, Mac and Logan, and Car One. On top of that, she also did photo-shoots for Vogue Girl, Marie Clare Korea and W, as well as a TV commercial for Chevrolet. Apart from working in her home country, she also worked for a few months in Hong Kong and currently lives in Singapore where she has been working for various fashion houses; but that’s not the end of it.
“After Singapore I will be going to Bangkok for a couple of months. It is a very exciting time for me.”
Picture © ESteem Ent
We spoke a bit about Western fashion versus Korean fashion and even though she enjoys wearing clothes from her domestic fashion market, she feels like the foreign designers are on top of everything: “Recently, Korean fashion is getting better and better, however, there is still a long way to go for the domestic market to become as good as the Western one.
“I do like foreign designers as there is so much creativity when you look at French, British or any other European designers. I am sure Korean fashion will catch up with the West soon.”
In her spare time Hyun-jin likes to peruse fashion magazines such as Dazed and W, and also enjoys to relax whilst working out and socialising with friends.
Photo © Di Angelo Shin
In July 2015, Christian Dior recruited a 14-year-old model from Israel, which sparked major worldwide criticism. In the UK, The British Fashion Council has banned models under the age of 16 from appearing at London Fashion Week. Having said that, various model agencies in South Korean encourage girls as young as 13 to join modelling academies to start their careers in fashion. Hyun-jin began hers relatively late, so I was curious to know if she was in favour of modelling at the age of 13/14.
“I started my career pretty late, so I am slightly restricted when it comes to modelling. However, when you look at all those young girls, age 13 or 14, I think it is good to introduce them to the fashion world.
“I am not certain it is good for them to be on a catwalk, though, as at the end of the day it is a very demanding job.”
Hyun-jin described her own fashion style as a classic style. In her eyes, fashion means freedom to express yourself: “It also gives me self confidence whenever it is needed.” She finds runway work easier than photo shoots for magazines. Being in the spotlight, in the middle of Seoul Fashion Week chaos, gives her even more self-esteem as a model. In 2015, Hyun-jin participated in three SFW shows, and her favourite Korean brand at this year’s fashion week was Push Button. She expressed her desire to wear Push Button’s designs at one of the SFW shows in the future. Hyun-jin also has a soft spot for Stella McCartney.
Picture © Courtesy of the photographer
Hyun-jin keeps herself busy; she is currently modelling in Singapore, where she also enjoys the local cuisine and socializes with like-minded people. When I spoke to her a few days ago, she said that everything is going great and that the weather is definitely warmer than in Korea. We do hope everything goes well for her and that we will be able to see her on an international catwalk soon.
Written by Maggie Gogler
Featured picture courtesy of ESteem Ent